wordsout by Godfrey Rust                                       The sailing of the ark  18 of 45  HOME  



18

It would be hard to get the New Testament convicted
on a charge of apostolic authority. Out of 

nine or ten writers—not including Q—
four at most heard Jesus' promise 

in the upper room, that "when the Spirit comes
he will guide you into all truth." The synoptics 

all drew on unattributed pool reports, the Gentile Luke
took the whole thing down second-hand; Paul, 

well we have his word for his apostleship—
in whatever sense you like—but who will vouch 

for Mark? James? Jude? 2 Peter? Or could even guess
the writer to the Hebrews? I don't doubt 

their inspiration, but the doctrine's flawed;
no wise house could now be founded on such sand.


A summary of the weakness of the case for the absolute “Apostolic” authority of the New Testament (the argument that it is directly inspired by God because it is written by those who were personally authorized by Jesus). Of those credited, the only four apostolic writers of the New Testament are Matthew, John, Peter and Paul, provided the latter is accepted as an apostle (in the sense of one chosen and commissioned directly by Jesus) by virtue of his post-Ascension encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road. The ascription of authorship to Matthew and Mark’s gospels is traditional, the other two are implicit in their texts (John as “the beloved disciple”, Luke by extension into the Acts of the Apostles of which he is the most likely author). Mark was not an apostle, although it is generally thought that much of his material came from Peter. Luke, James (possibly the brother of Jesus) and Jude (possibly another brother) were not apostles, though each was influential in the early church’s life. There is no evidence that Luke, a Gentile, ever knew the incarnate Jesus personally. The authorship of 2 Peter is seriously questioned. The writer of Hebrews is unknown, it being now generally accepted that it was not Paul. 

four at most Matthew, John and Peter were at the Last Supper to hear Jesus’ promise (John 16:13) which is the most explicit foundation of belief in the apostolic authority of the New Testament writings. Mark may also have been present, as his house was one of the possible venues. 

not including Q The name (short for the German "Quelle", meaning source) given to the text whose existence has been deduced but not proved, from which Matthew and Luke are thought each to have drawn common material (as well as drawing from Mark).

no wise house cf Jesus' parable of the wise and foolish builders  (Matthew 7, 24-27).